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Sermon for 22 February 2015

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT + 22nd February 2015 CYCLE B.


My Dear People,

Lent has arrived and great numbers thronged the church on Ash Wednesday. We have a Pastoral Letter today which by error was not read last week except for the evening Masses.

So the Gospel tells us that our Blessed Lord was led into the wilderness where he was TEMPTED by the Devil. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

Just stop for a moment and think about that opening sentence from the Gospel According to Mark. We are talking about God made Man here.

First of all it was the Holy Spirit who "Drove" Jesus out into that wilderness. Our Lord was impelled. You know many of the saints experienced this "being driven" and especially those who were going to do great work for God. St Ignatius the founder of the Jesuits spent a long time in a cave in Manresa in Spain. St Bernadette was "drawn" by a great force to come back to the Rock of the Grotto. St Patrick spent much time in what is now called St Patrick's Purgatory and fasted and prayed for forty days and forty nights on Crough Patrick in Mayo to convert those tribes of the West who worshipped the sun. There is often a spiritual crisis when one called by God to do a great work and the Devil has a hand to tempt the soul away from fulfilling God's Holy Will.

Our Lord was helped by angels because he could not have coped without them. He was ministered to again at his agony in the Garden. Only a few times was he directly helped by angels. At his birth St Joseph was told by the angel to protect the child by taking Mary as his spouse and then to flee into Egypt. In the Agony in the Garden our Lord sweated blood and was assisted by the angels because the apostles could not keep awake even when he asked them to stay awake and to keep watch with him. Finally it was the angels who proclaimed to Mary of Magdala that "He has Risen!" Our Lord saw John the Baptist's arrest as the sign to begin his Public Ministry and he began it by being driven into the wilderness to pray and fast and be tempted for over a month - forty days - like our Lent. The wilderness is a place where I am told the soul does battle. There is nothing to distract you; only you and the Living God and the wilderness untouched by man with its wild life. There our Lord would have been prepared as God-Man to go forth like a second Moses to save the people from the slavery to sin and to wash away their sins with his life saving blood. He would fill the earth with the words from his sacred lips and reveal to humanity the secret of the Triune God. The devil had a notion about who Christ was and fought with him but our Lord vanquished him and the devil was only allowed to return "at the appointed time" (The Passion). If you saw Mel Gibson's film he illustrates this fight very well.

Noah’s Rainbow's promise is fulfilled and the Lord of Glory has appeared in our midst and a New Covenant is about to be unfolded which would be sealed in the Lord’s own blood.

So we in Lent join our Saviour in his victory over sin and death. We take on some of that fight with evil. There are many forces in our country at enmity with God. They appear in good suits and have power but are rotten within and are in love with the forces of death. The flood our world deserves must be averted by the Church, the Body of Christ, praying for God’s Mercy.

May we find God's Mercy ourselves so overwhelming and loving that we will be become beacons of hope in our lives.

Prayer, fasting and Giving to the needy are all hallmarks of a good Lent. The Lenten Alms is the Poor box slot at the back of church. The charity this year is CAFOD - a Catholic charity that feeds thousands each day with very little overheads.

Happy Lent.

Fr Tom Connolly.

POPE FRANCIS'S MESSAGE TO US FOR LENT has been edited and prepared by Claudia of the Fraternas and is available at the Porch.

STATIONS of THE CROSS have been published for general use in our parish. They are short and will be used daily after the Mass unless there is a Funeral Mass. Please find them at the back bench on the shelves.

RITE OF ELECTION - Today (Sunday) the Bishop will inscribe the names of those adults who are preparing for Baptism at the Easter Vigil in the Book of Candidates at the Cathedral. We have candidates ready this year and next year we hope to have some more candidates. Claudia and others gives classes in the Catholic Faith every Thursday night at 7.30 pm in the Presbytery at St Edwards assisted by Pauline Emberson our parish catechist.




I got to visit seven parishes this week, but two of those I had briefly visited before. (running total 45). I also visited three primary schools.

There has been the opportunity to meet with representatives of different associations. I was very pleased to see the enthusiasm of the CAFOD Volunteers in a gathering at the Cathedral Centre on Saturday. It is certainly one of the great strengths of CAFOD that it engages people here with its partnerships in some of the poorest countries. I am most impressed to see so much evidence of CAFOD's presence in our schools, with good educational materials. I had a day in London this week for CAFOD and the induction of a new trustee. I was asked here in the Diocese if I intended to continue in my role with CAFOD and I would certainly intend to do so. I must, however, be sure to balance commitments outside the Diocese with all that needs to be done here. As you know, all bishops have responsibilities delegated to them by the Bishops' Conference. CAFOD does demand time, and I made a commitment to an annual trip to visit partners if at all possible, as a practical way of understanding its work and effectiveness.

I was also with a large group of associations this morning who participate in the network of Caritas. There is undoubtedly a great deal of very valuable and effective work being done. There is a real purpose and value in all these associations being aware of one another and having the possibility to network with and assist each other in different aspects of their work. Quite how we structure Caritas and its various forms of membership is still open to discussion. For now it is good to know that such good work is being doing in so many different areas of need.

I met with the Trustees of the Diocese and the College of Consultors and agreed with them that there should be lay trustees appointed. A clergy presence is, of course, essential but I believe that we must draw on the expertise of wise and trusted people since, as a Registered Charity, we are subject to so many legislated requirements and we have substantial financial responsibilities and demands. I have asked for names of possible candidates to be submitted to me – and I make that invitation to any of the clergy who feel that they know someone of outstanding ability in matters of finance, property, the law, education or who have business acumen. That person should also be committed to their Faith as a member of our Church. I also consulted on my hope to appoint a Financial Secretary and have indeed appointed Noel Loughrey. My thanks to Mgr Anthony Kay for shouldering that responsibility so well but we agreed that it would be good to have Finance as a separate, specialised office. I have asked Noel to plan for an annual written financial report for us all.

You will know of the appointment of a second Vicar General. My thanks to Canon Michael Cooke for accepting the role. I have wanted to spread the heavy load of responsibility and I propose now to discuss the organisation of the Diocese with the Vicars General and the Episcopal Vicars – and then offer a proposal to you for comment. It is clear to me that we should all know the structure of responsibilities within the diocese and that the Curia should operate as a “central service” to those in parishes and organisations – offering assistance and providing expertise and solutions. There can be no doubt that we must rely much more on lay participation in our parishes, for catechesis, maintenance and administration and they must have a reliable and helpful central service to which to refer.

Given the fog last Monday, my intention to gaze on Yorkshire seemed likely to be frustrated but I ventured to Peel's Tower at Ramsbottom and then went to the delights of the countryside around Chipping and Dunsop Bridge. As beautiful as Yorkshire - in fact, I think some of it was! This Monday I shall enjoy the landscapes and scenery on my way to Ushaw and, once that meeting there is over, some walking before I come home.

With my best wishes.


Bishop John Arnold

Bishop of Salford

Wardley Hall | Wardley Hall Road | Worsley | Manchester M28 2ND

Tel: 0161 794 2825

Bidding Prayers

Bidding Prayers for 1st Sunday of Lent B

Priest: In this Holy Season, God enlightens us with the grace of the Holy Spirit that our lives may be filled with justice and faith. Let us proclaim his tender mercy in these intercessions.

Lord, Unite bishops, priests and deacons more closely with Christ through the Mystery of the Holy Mass- renew in them each day the grace of Ordination. Lord in your mercy.

Nourish the faithful with the food of Christ's word - feed them with the Bread which is His Body. We pray for those persecuted Christians who risk their lives and freedom, trying to attend Mass. Lord in your mercy.

Grant that we may respect the dignity of every human being - redeemed by the Precious Blood of your Son- let us never violate their dignity. Lord in your mercy.

Save us from the blind pursuit of wealth - make us sensitive to the needy in our Lenten Almsgiving and we pray for the work of Aid to the Church in Need and Caritas and Cafod. Lord in your mercy.

Christ’s heart was pierced with a lance - heal the sick and comfort them in their pain: Sheila O'Donnell, Mary Hoey, Mary Rose Smith, Patricia McDonald, Margaret Prendergast, Infant Cian Doran, Kathleen O'Malley, Elizabeth Leyden, Aiden Kennedy. Lord in your mercy.

Share with the lately dead the Bodily Glory of your Son and let us rejoice one day with them in the kingdom of Heaven: The twenty One Coptic Christians murdered by ISIL, Winifred O'Reilly, John Patrick Cawley, Thomas Moran, Tim Whyte AND All those souls whom we have loved in life and pray for on their Anniversary, Michael Boyd (VIGIL), Tommy Mimnagh , Peggy Walsh (11), Martin Joseph Bowens (13th), Owen Lambe (9am), Martin Connolly, Sister Frances Cawley, Margaret Cole, Sarah Cahill, Father Crowley.

Our Lady stood by Jesus from Bethlehem to Calvary, may she stand with us now.

O Mary conceived without sin - pray for us who have recourse to thee..Hail Mary...

Priest: Give us the grace Lord to begin the Lenten works we have begun so that strengthened in the spiritual struggle we may give you thankful praise for all your blessings. Thro Christ our Lord. Amen